Former UK gambler from Ripley challenges stigmas around seeking addiction support

Liam Colebrook, a 40-year-old former problem gambler from Ripley in Derbyshire, is on a mission to challenge the stigmas associated with seeking support for addiction. He aims to encourage open discussions about gambling addiction, aligning himself with leading gambling-related charities hoping to urge more people to seek professional assistance.

In an interview with the BBC, Colebrook shared his struggles with mental health, financial losses, and the societal acceptance of gambling as a social activity. He highlighted the difficulty in recognizing when a habit turns into an addiction, especially when it is widely accepted and normalized.

His own addiction led to significant losses, both financially and emotionally. Despite maintaining a facade of normalcy, Colebrook admitted to losing everything and hiding his problem from family and friends. After two stints in rehab, he is committed to dispelling the stigma associated with seeking help for gambling addiction.

Colebrook emphasized the importance of openly discussing the problem and seeking help, as well as the need for empathy and understanding. He stressed that recovery is possible and individuals can reclaim their lives.

Leading gambling harm support group GamCare reported a record number of calls and online messages in 2023, with a 24% increase compared to the previous year. They also noted a significant rise in calls during the festive period, highlighting the urgency of the issue.

GambleAware, another prominent UK gambling support organization, has been running campaigns aimed at challenging stigma and urging individuals suffering harm to seek help. They revealed that 62% of people who know problem gamblers would negatively judge them, hindering timely assistance.

As individuals like Colebrook bravely share their experiences, there is hope that it will spark a broader conversation about gambling addiction, reduce stigma, and encourage more people to seek help. Organizations like GamCare and GambleAware remain available to provide assistance and spread awareness, while effective regulations are also necessary to safeguard gamblers from addiction.

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